NATCHITOCHES, LA, MARCH 27, 2014 – Biblical scriptures often refer to these days as the “last days”, when God will pour out his spirit upon all flesh, and perform a marvelous work and a wonder before the world. (Acts 2:17, Isaiah 2:2-3; 29:13-14; Matthew 24). Certainly the arm of the Lord is being made bare in the eyes of all the nations, as more light and knowledge are being brought forth than ever before, accessible with just the touch of a finger.
So what is God saying today? And to whom is he speaking?
Amos 3:7 declares: “Surely the Lord God will do nothing but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”
God is doing a lot in these last days. How can he be an unchangeable God and not continue to reveal his secrets unto his servants, the prophets? Is our lack of faith keeping us from hearing God’s words, or from looking for them in the right places? All Christians believe that witnesses of God will again be prophesying on earth in the last days (Revelation Ch. 11), and that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10).
So who are these reliable witnesses of Christ, and how can they help us prepare for the future? For example, wouldn’t a warning about the current prolonged recession have been helpful?
Millions of people throughout the world would agree that we were given just that. In 2001, seven years prior to the Great Recession that gripped the world in 2008, Gordon B. Hinckley, president and prophet leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, spoke at very public general conferences of this church. He said Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams described in Genesis Chapter 41 had been on his mind and that we need to prepare for coming severe economic difficulties.
Like Pharaoh, we were given timely notice of seven years of plenty, to be followed by seven lean years.
President Hinckley said the following in 2001:
“I do not know what the future holds. I do not wish to sound negative, but I wish to remind you of the warnings of scripture and the teachings of the prophets which we have had constantly before us.
I cannot forget the great lesson of Pharaoh’s dream of the fat and lean kine and of the full and withered stalks of corn. I cannot dismiss from my mind the grim warnings of the Lord as set forth in the 24th chapter of Matthew.
I am familiar, as are you, with the declaration of modern revelation that the time will come when the earth will be cleansed and there will be indescribable distress, with weeping and mourning and lamentation (see D&C 112:24).
Now, I do not wish to be an alarmist. I do not wish to be a prophet of doom. I am optimistic. I do not believe the time is here when an all-consuming calamity will overtake us. I earnestly pray that it may not. There is so much of the Lord’s work yet to be done. We, and our children after us, must do it.”
(See lds.org, General Conference, October 2001, The Times In Which We Live, President Gordon B. Hinckley).
In a much less public way, an earlier president of the same church, George Albert Smith, in early 1946, was quoted as describing other events which will shortly precede a Third World War. At the time of the prophecy, the United States and the Soviet Union were still allies following World War II. At a neighbor’s home, President Smith said that he had a “troublesome vision of another great and terrible war that made the war that just ended look like a training exercise.” “People would die like flies. The U.S. would have missiles in Europe that carried the atomic bomb.”
He was also quoted as saying “I saw the U.S. withdraw its missiles in Europe to appease the Soviet Union, and then the war began.” He also said that until then, U.S. presidents would be of British or Northern European ancestry until the president at that time. He said the U.S. would be bound by numerous entangling alliances, and would take away weapons owned by the people. He concluded that the worst time of the then-recent Great Depression would seem like a Sunday picnic when compared to the conditions that will exist after that great war.
Perhaps God wants us to be prepared for very difficult times ahead, so we will not fear those days, and our hearts will not fail us: “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Matt. 24:12-13.
Amid the coming difficult circumstances, we can still be useful by preparing stores of food for ourselves and those around us. Speaking of the last days, Isaiah prophesied: “The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” Isaiah 52:10.
We may not see it unless we are watching for it. The invitation still stands: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth, and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8).